The new social network of Pinterest is probably the most exciting new online platform to come along in quite a long time. The number of users are increasing rapidly and the press is raving – but what can Pinterest do for companies?
The virtual pin board was recently a major topic at the 2012 social fresh east conference where marketers discussed their early successes – in particular Nordstrom. The continued success can be explained by the some of the strengths listed below:
- Unlike many other social media phenomenons trying to integrate as many functions as possible, Pinterest focuses entirely on one thing – and does it well. The founders follow the “less is more” philosophy, which has already led to success on Google and Twitter in the past.
- Additionally, Pinterest puts great importance on user friendliness and intuitive operation. This is partly due to the clear functionality and also on the many aspects of their web design that have been done right.
- Pinterest is about things we love: hobbies, wishes, dreams, goals, etc. It is clear that most of the time users “pin” pictures of things they do not (yet) have and want to express their admiration for. This is very similar to the “Like” button from Facebook, but with a much stronger emotional connection.
- Browsing Pinterest is an extremely visual experience – there is hardly anything to read. The experience is made up of photographs and images. This is a new form of communication that is inhabited by other platforms such as Instagram or Path.
- There is no distinction between users, businesses or other institutions. All are treated equally and can use the same functions on Pinterest. This democratization of the community in an impressive manner makes a Pinterest unique among social networks.
A study by ComScore shows that the number of unique visitors (in the United States) has increased exponentially and currently stands at around 11.7 million unique users per month (a 56% change over the previous month).
Furthermore, it appears that the Pinterest effect goes beyond the United States. An example is DIDYMOS, a baby sling manufacturers from Ludwigsburg, Germany that opened a Pinterest and could generate 60 followers in two days.
The other side of the coin…
However Pinterest has two major problems that could dampen their future success:
- Pinterest is so focused on it’s strengths and thus only offers limited functionality. This can be a disadvantage as it makes it very easy for imitators. There are already some clones, such as Gentlemint.com, masquerading as a “male” version Pinterest.
- Moreover, there is a growing problem of spam. Since all links are indexed in Google and Pinterest creates additional traffic to websites resourceful SEO experts will soon find a way to exploit this and flood the platform with links. This would mean that the current harmonious user experience will be tarnished.
All well and good – how can my company benefit?
Basically there are no generally accepted guidelines for businesses – yet. However, here are some basic strategies that can lead to success:
- Look at the platform as a website for product presentation.
- An important success factor is Pinterest virality: You want to entice other users to pin your own images and increase the awareness of your. Therefore consider presenting your products or services in a creative and compelling manner.
- Experiment. The platform is still in its infancy and there is still a cast amount of untapped potential that can be discovered.
- Take advantage of the possibilities presented by using different “boards” in order to showcase diverse content. An example, is to highlight others or show complementary items and products. For an example check out Build.com on Pinterest.
Pinterest for B2B companies
Although at first glance Pinterest appears particularly relevant for B2C companies, B2B can also benefit from it as a business platform. The biggest problem B2B often has is the lack of visual content. By nature B2B companies sell rather “invisible” products to the public. Therefore you should look at Pinterest from a little outside the box:
- Use visual content that you already own. Examples are photos of the last Christmas party to demonstrate the company’s corporate culture. Or you can draw on material from trade fairs. Photos of management can also do well on an appropriate board – just provide each photo with a brief biography.
- Does your industry have interesting information graphics or statistics? Have you carried out studies on a particular topic itself? Take advantage of this potential and create boards for specific topics.
- In addition to the products themselves, you can also turn your current product catalogs, brochures or other promotional material into boards on Pinterest.
- Photos of happy customers and similar images speak to other people and can in turn be a helpful way to gain more happy customers.
Also make sure to add links to your site to your pins. As the main purpose of your presence at Pinterest should be to bring visitors of your pins to your web page, which you can then convert into leads or even customers. Special landing pages for certain pins can also be helpful here.